OP/ED: Veteran politician speaks to realities of being on city council
Are you thinking about running in the next Municipal election?
First and foremost, I say congratulations for wanting to put your name forward. Second, do not be naive as to what is needed from you, and Third, you can no longer say that you are not a politician.
The hours vary but, as an example, I put in more than 20 hours last week for City-related events and duties. There are committee meetings, public meetings, event-planning meetings, budget meetings, assigned agency meetings, internal business meetings, meetings that folks just want you at and more.
The time you can give, matters.
The other part is that you do receive a yearly stipend, approximately $14,000 for councillors (which is now going to be 100-per-cent taxable under the new rules). You do not get separate reimbursement for work days missed. There are no communications nor a clothing allowance other than what you cover through your stipend. The City does pay for travel/meals/mileage/ for out-of-town trips on approved City business. There is no big payout or pension when you do not get reelected or if you step down.
You also no longer have a sense of privacy. What you do and say matters. You are to constantly be criticized, called names and be fodder for Facebook.
You also get told, “Good job, thank you for caring and thanks for doing the job”.
You will never make everyone happy, in fact you will piss off many at some point in time. You will be interrupted at dinners out, while shopping, at events and even going for a walk. Your life will change and you will probably lose some friends over time. There will be times when you will be quoted in papers and other media the way it was heard and said, not necessarily the way it was meant.
Don’t expect things to happen quickly, there is a process and it needs to be followed.
We have clear rules and guidelines that we must adhere, too. We do not get involved in the day-to-day operations of the City, that is why we have a management team. Our constant contact is the CAO. We have very little power with immense responsibilities.
I have been blessed with being allowed to do this job and it is has been the best experience of my life. I look forward to seeing you on the campaign trail.
Castlegar City Councillor Deb McIntosh